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Sep 24, 2016

Do you ever get headaches after working on a computer for a long time?

Eye strain?

Mild irritation?

Brain fog?

It's not all in your head.

See, just like most televisions, computer monitors "flicker".  Monitors have been flickering for many years, but most people don't realize this because the flicker is invisible. However, the flicker is still very hard on your eyes and is just one of the computer monitor issues responsible for the growing epidemic of near-sightedness and myopia - also known as "computer vision syndrome".

Even fancy, modern PC LCD monitors are not flicker-free, even though many people think they are. These LCD monitors originally started out by using something called CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamps) as a backlight source for the monitor, but in recent years manufacturers have shifted to using LEDs (light emitting diodes). If you have one of those thin monitors, then you probably have a LCD monitor with LED, and if you are unsure, you can check the model number on the backside of the monitor and Google it. The use of LED has numerous benefits, including lower power consumption, far fewer toxic substances due to the absence of the cathode and some fantastic picture quality advantages, but along with all these benefits come potential eyestrain issues that can damage and destroy your eyes over the long term. See, when your monitor is set to maximum brightness, the LEDs are glowing at full 100% strength. If you reduce the brightness setting in the menu, the LEDs need to omit less light, and this is accomplished by inserting small breaks, or pauses (flickers!) in which the LEDs turn off for a very short, nearly invisible time. When you reduce the brightness setting of your monitor even more, the breaks become longer. This creates a frustrating catch-22: a bright screen can strain your eyes, and the flicker created by a less bright screen can also strain your eyes. Compared to old-school CCFL monitors, the newer LED-based monitors carry the greatest risk of giving you eyestrain, tired eyes or nasty headaches. You can read more about this issue in the article "LED Monitors can cause headaches due to flicker".

My guest on today's podcast has figured out how to tackle this issue, and has invented a special piece of software called "Iris" that controls the brightness of the monitor with the help of your computer's video card, allows you to have adequate brightness without the flicker, and even automatically adjusts your computer monitor's settings based on the sun's position wherever you happen to be in the world.

His name is Daniel Georgiev, and he is a 20 year old computer programmer from Bulgaria. Before he learned to code, Daniel was a rower in his country's national team for more than 5 years, and participated in the 2012 World Rowing Junior Championship. During our discussion, you'll discover:

-How Daniel got kicked off his soccer team, and within two years qualified for the Bulgarian National Team in rowing...[11:20]

-Why Daniel programmed his computer monitor to freeze and stop his work every 30 minutes...[19:45]

-Why Daniel doesn't like the computer program "Flux" for decreasing blue light on your monitor...[21:45]

-The link between color "temperature" and the amount of blue light a computer monitor creates...[29:52]

-How to convert a glossy computer monitor screen into a matte computer monitor screen...[33:50]

-Why you should use font rendering technologies to change the type of font you are looking at when you read on a computer monitor...[39:00]

-How to automatically invert colors on a screen or change the screen to grayscale when you are working to reduce eye strain and improve your ability to sleep...[46:25]

-Why you blink 66% less when you are working on a computer (and why yawning when you work on your computer is actually quite important)...[50:00 & 54:50]

-How to set up your computer monitor to force you to take automatic "Pomodoro" breaks, and get instant reminders for eye exercises, neck exercises and back exercises...[56:10]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-Iris software

-Anti-glare screen protectors

-The Eizo Flexscan 2436 Monitor Ben uses

-The BenQ Monitors that Daniel talks about

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Daniel or me? Leave your thoughts at and one of us will reply!